Brave New World Repertory Theatre, a Brooklyn-based company, reaches under-served audiences to promote a love of theatre, with re-imagined classics and brave new works that reflect our diverse community. BNW’s free-to-low-cost programs range from intimate readings to large outdoor productions, and cast unique and historic Brooklyn venues in a leading role. We seek to tell stories that celebrate life and explore social justice: stories that make us laugh, feel deeply, and find common ground.
Over the past twelve years in Brooklyn, Brave New World Rep has carved out a site-specific niche presenting reenvisioned classics and works by Brooklyn playwrights. The company was established in 2003 by founding artistic directors Claire Beckman, Amy Ilias and John Morgan (pictured), along with Christine Siracusa, Chris Lindsay-Abaire and Stuart Zagnit.
In its first year the company developed a Salon Series, which invited audiences to staged readings of classic plays in living rooms across Brooklyn, and included dinner and wine. BNW’s first full production, The Importance of Being Earnest, took place in the MADARTS Studio art gallery in South Park Slope, which was reconfigured into a theater space.
The company earned its reputation of delivering unexpectedly immersive works to communities all around Brooklyn beginning with its 2005 production of To Kill a Mockingbird, presented on the front porches and sidewalks of a tree-lined Ditmas Park street. The work was helmed by Beckman, who quickly assumed the role of sole producing artistic director. Other early work includes On The Waterfront on a Brooklyn barge that toured the waterfronts of New York Bay, The Tempest on the beach and boardwalk in Coney Island, and The Crucible by lantern light at The Old Stone House in Park Slope. The company has been a featured favorite of Celebrate Brooklyn! at the Prospect Park band shell, presenting acclaimed productions of Fahrenheit 451, The Great White Hope and Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, based on Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
In 2012 company members Cynthia Babak and John Morgan became co-artistic directors and Brave New World became the resident company at the Brooklyn Lyceum. Over the year they produced Lynn Nottage’s Fabulation, directed by Babak, and The Merry Wives of Windsor (Terrace), as well as Thornton Wilder’s The Long Christmas Dinner at the home of the Lindsay-Abaires and the Akwaaba Mansion.
2013 brought the ten-year anniversary of the company and a new producing artistic director, Shannon Sindelar, who quickly established the original works initiative BRAVE NEW WORKS, designed to deepen the company’s relationship with Brooklyn writers. Featured writers have included Alexandra Collier, Erin Courtney, Kristoffer Diaz, Trish Harnetiaux, Julia May Jonas, Adam Kraar, Charles Mee, Rehana Lew Mirza, Mark Sitko, Ariel Stess, Brian Watkins and Gary Winter. Brave New Works includes readings and full productions of world premieres. RN Healey’s NUN$ was the first full production, and Charles Mee’s Matisse’s Self Portrait, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Picasso’s Masterpiece will premiere in 2016.
Recent productions of classics include free performances of Elmer Rice’s Street Scene, in which the company closed off a street in Park Slope and used a tenement building and the adjacent street as the stage, Orson Welles’ Moby Dick—Rehearsed, presented on a barge in Red Hook, Gertrude Stein’s Pink Melon Joy at Cloud City in Williamsburg, Moliere’s The Miser at the opulent Grand Prospect Hall in South Park Slope and Major Barbara at the First Unitarian Congregational Society’s McKinney Chapel in Brooklyn Heights.